Wanderings with Willow: Without a Home
Hey there, it’s me Willow. Time for my next blog. Thanks to everyone who read my last one. Recently, my coworker Anjelica Webber wrote about homelessness in Ocean County, and some programs at OceanMHS and other area agencies to assist those experiencing homelessness. Many of you might not know my story, but there was a time I was homeless pet looking for a place to call home. I was brought to New Jersey as a puppy through a rescue called American Dog Rescue. They are a non-profit organization dedicated to dog rescue, rehabilitation, adoption, community education, and improving the quality of animal/human relations.
Sadly, many families with pets fall on hard times, and they struggle to provide for their pet as well as themselves. There are some local resources that can help out with some pet care during difficult times. About 10% of people who are homeless have a pet with them Pets of the Homeless. Some local food pantries also assist with providing pet food to those in need. Here is a list of available food pantries in Ocean County, and you can check with the individual pantries if they assist with pet food as well.
Free rabies clinics are available to many Ocean County residents with pets as well as low cost spay and neuter clinics to those who meet the eligibility requirements. Check out the Friends of Southern Ocean County Animal Shelter for more information!
Homelessness is a real problem for companion animals like me too. The ASPCA reports approximately 3.3 million dogs and 3.2 million cats enter U.S. animal shelters every year, for a total of 6.5 companion animals. I checked in with Jersey Shore Animal Foundation, (JSAF) right here in Ocean County for their advice and thoughts.
JSAF says the hope is to keep animals in their homes when times are tough for families rather than them being surrendered to a shelter that is overcrowded. Costs associated with spay/neutering, annual wellness visits, vaccines and any emergency costs/illness can cause financial strains and issues for struggling pet owners. And these expenses can be completely unaffordable for families and pet owners facing homelessness. There are some low cost and affordable pet clinics available to pet owners. JSAF tries to keep an updated list available on their site. Check them out!
Having pets is wonderful, I know, I am an awesome pet!! But deciding to get a pet is a serious decision. We need attention, love, exercise and to physically cared for, and this does come with costs. It’s so important for families and potential pet owners to really considering all the costs and time commitments that come with pet ownership before making the commitment. If you know someone with a pet who is struggling, please share these resources with them!
Bark back at Willow via email: Willow@OceanMHS.org